AKI Partner Organization-Bam Animal Clinics Uganda
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bam Animal Clinics-Uganda is continuing their work, but of course, in compliance with Government mandates and with the health and safety of their staff and of the donkey owners at the forefront. AKI sent emergency covid-19 funds to Bam to purchase a motorcycle so they can more easily reach remote areas in Kween and Bukwo districts, where many of the donkeys reside-and where the covid-19 crisis is compounded with impacts from locust swarms. At Bam's office in Iganga, they are accepting dogs and cats at the clinic, with safety precautions in place.
AKI's Partnership with Bam Animal Clinics
Bam Animal Clinics-Uganda is AKI's newest Partner Organization, added as an AKI Partner in January 2020. Bam was founded in June 2009 and is located in Nakavule village, Iganga. While they work to improve the welfare of all animals, AKI is specifically supporting Bam's work to improve donkey welfare in Uganda.
Prior to becoming an AKI Partner, in 2019, Bam Animal Clinics was a 2019 AKI Africa-Based Animal Welfare Organization Grant Recipient. For their grant project, Bam trained donkey owners in Kween district in the Eastern region of Uganda to make sisal sack saddles to protect donkeys from wounds caused by poorly made or no saddles.
In Kween district, donkeys are a major source of transportation of food, fire wood, and water. The district is very hilly and has a very poor road network. Quite often, women are the major users of donkeys, since they are usually in charge of harvesting and getting fire wood and water.
Veterinary services are available mainly in the larger centers; the rural areas are less well serviced and vet care is considered too expensive for most donkey owners.
Donkey owners have no shelters and often donkeys are left in the rain and sun day in, day out. In rainy seasons, donkeys are confined to prevent them from grazing on crops. Donkeys are slaughtered once they appear ill, or may be sold to butchers to meet financial obligations.
The donkey skin trade is a problem in this area, as in most areas where donkeys are common. The Chinese make ejao out of the skin, a substance believed (without scientific evidence) to treat many different illnesses. Chinese buyers offer villagers money for their donkeys-or donkeys are stolen-and donkey populations can quickly decline, leaving villagers with no means to transport essentials.
Bam Animal Clinics is addressing the poor saddling practices, the lack of veterinary services, and the ejao trade through sisal saddle pack training courses (like the one funded with the 2019 AKI grant, pictures below), through mobile donkey vet clinics, and community humane education/donkey care. We look forward to supporting this work and helping Bam Animal Clinics expand their services and grow their organization!
Wondering what Bam Animal Clinics means? David Balondemu, Founder & Director, explains:
Bam comes from Bamu meaning United in our local language, but because during registration we found someone else had registered the same name, we cut off the ‘U’ still to keep it relevant with our original meaning. Clinics of course means that we have spay/neuter and other clinics, including donkey clinics...therefore, Bam Animal Clinics.
When Bam Animal Clinics trained donkey owners to make sisal sack saddles, they noticed that many of the donkeys needed wound treatment, hoof trimming, and other basic care, so they returned in October 2019 to hold a vet clinic (pictures below). On their way to Kween district for the donkey clinic, they saw a poorly loaded donkey, clearly suffering, with a too-heavy load. They stopped to help the donkey, explained to the owner how to properly load the donkey, donated a sisal sack saddle, and reloaded the donkey properly (1st picture below).
In December 2019, I (Karen) met with Bam Animal Clinics in Uganda: Dr. David Balondemu (Founder, Director, and vet-1st picture on the left), Dr. Kalange Muhamudu (Bam volunteer vet and District Veterinary Officer, Bugweri district-2nd picture on the left), and Dr. Kagoda Samuel (Bam volunteer vet and District Veterinary Officer, Iganga district-1st picture on the right). The pictures below were taken at the Uganda SPCA Haven (you might recognize Haven Shelter Manager Alex Ochieng in the middle). David, Muhamudu, Samuel, and I discussed Bam Animal Clinics' work, challenges, and goals, and the requirements of AKI partnership.